The Static of the Spheres
Chapter 14: In Which Months Pass
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WILL NOT make you sit through each step in the building of the radio.
We began, you will recall, in January. By the time the crocuses began
to pop up in corners of Gumma and Guppa’s lawn, the chassis looked quite
complete from the top. There were handsome black sockets that would
hold the tubes and coils, and there were stocky transformers and some shiny
things that looked like little cans. On the front of the chassis
were six knobs in a row and a shiny toggle switch that would, one day,
make the tubes light up and send unfamiliar sounds into the earphones.
Looking underneath, one got an idea of how far we still had to go.
Each of the gadgets mounted on top bristled with prongs and lugs underneath,
and even I could figure out that all of those had to be connected with
some of the wire that Guppa had bought. There were still lots of
gadgets, most of them pretty small, lined up on the workbench, and I supposed
that all of them had to go in there somewhere. I had developed a
deep admiration for Guppa’s stick-to-itiveness that persists to this day.
We had made two more excursions to the electrical gadget store to find
out what some of the things lined up on the bench were and to replace tubes
that had rolled onto the cellar floor. I had assumed for myself the
job of sweeping the cellar while Guppa worked, and there was by this time
so little dust left that I had to get down on my hands and knees and work
at the floor with a whisk broom to fill the dustpan. I had taken
to wearing the earphones while I worked and imagining the strange and wonderful
things I would hear through them when the radio was ready.
By the time the first tomatoes ripened in Guppa’s garden, the underside of the chassis looked like my father’s workbench. Wires of many colors connected most of the prongs and lugs, and most of the colorful resistors and drab capacitors were hooked in there somehow too. Gumma had taught me how to bake bread, and I had become nearly as precise as she at slicing onions for onion sandwiches. I had swept dust from the walls around the cellar, and then, with no more dust available, had given up sweeping the cellar, and had sat on the metal stool beside Guppa, watching him solder connection after connection.
When Thanksgiving arrived, Gumma taught me to make chestnut stuffing, and Guppa and I believed that we had the radio licked. Everything was in place, except for a few extra resistors and capacitors, but on another trip to the gadget store one of the Regular Joes assured Guppa that these leftovers had been included in the parts list only as spares. Guppa brought the radio up from the cellar after Thanksgiving dinner and plunked it down in the middle of the table, where it occasioned as much oohing and ahing as the turkey had. Well, perhaps not as much as the turkey, but at least as much as the Waldorf salad. Guppa beamed. He pushed his chair back from the table and took a cigarette from my father’s pack. He gave an account of the labor that had been involved so far, and I could see that everyone admired his stick-to-itiveness.
“All we have to do now,” he said, “is wind the coils.”
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Little Follies is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.
“My Mother Takes a Tumble,” “Do Clams Bite?,” “Life on the Bolotomy,” “The Static of the Spheres,” “The Fox and the Clam,” “The Girl with the White Fur Muff,” “Take the Long Way Home,” and “Call Me Larry” were originally published in paperback by Apple-Wood Books.
Little Follies was first published in hardcover by Crown Publishers, Inc., 201 East 50th Street, New York, New York 10022. Member of the Crown Publishing Group.
For information about publication rights outside the U. S. A., audio rights, serial rights, screen rights, and so on, e-mail the author’s imaginary agent, Alec “Nick” Rafter.
The illustration at the top of the page is an adaptation of an illustration by Stewart Rouse that first appeared on the cover of the August 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics and Inventions. The boy at the controls of the aerocycle doesn’t particularly resemble Peter Leroy—except, perhaps, for the smile.